With its sales still slumping, J.Crew is going back to basics.
After the company reported its latest financial figures on Thursday afternoon, a subpar performance marked by a 13 percent drop in J.Crew's sales during the second quarter of the year, CEO Mickey Drexler laid out some of the brand's plans for the near term, including a renewed emphasis on its heritage products. Those would be pieces like cashmere sweaters, blazers and denim — the types of items you could expect to find in the store at any time of the year. Most interestingly, that renewed focus will come in conjunction with a shift away from J.Crew's high fashion fare. It isn't going away entirely, but Drexler says it will receive a smaller percentage of the company's investments and should ideally account for a lesser percentage of public perception.
Meanwhile, Drexler shed some light on J.Crew Mercantile, a lower-priced range that had been designed exclusively for J.Crew factory stores before getting its first dedicated location in Dallas last month. Drexler said the company had seen a lot of demand for J.Crew-branded goods at lower price points; Mercantile, then, is a way to take J.Crew into areas where its full-price retail stores might not succeed. To lend the stores a bit more cachet, the team decided to brand and market that range under the Mercantile name, rather than having it merely live in factory stores.
Per usual, Madewell is doing considerably better than its sister brand. That said, it's growing somewhat slower than before, with comparable sales up 8 percent in the second quarter — notably less than the 17 percent by which it grew during the same time last year.